Commenced in January 2007
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Search results for: Manasis Mitrakas

4 Development of an Integrated Methodology for Fouling Control in Membrane Bioreactors

Authors: Petros Gkotsis, Anastasios Zouboulis, Manasis Mitrakas, Dimitrios Zamboulis, E. Peleka


The most serious drawback in wastewater treatment using membrane bioreactors (MBRs) is membrane fouling which gradually leads to membrane permeability decrease and efficiency deterioration. This work is part of a research project that aims to develop an integrated methodology for membrane fouling control, using specific chemicals which will enhance the coagulation and flocculation of compounds responsible for fouling, hence reducing biofilm formation on the membrane surface and limiting the fouling rate acting as a pre-treatment step. For this purpose, a pilot-scale plant with fully automatic operation achieved by means of programmable logic controller (PLC) has been constructed and tested. The experimental set-up consists of four units: wastewater feed unit, bioreactor, membrane (side-stream) filtration unit and permeate collection unit. Synthetic wastewater was fed as the substrate for the activated sludge. The dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration of the aerobic tank was maintained in the range of 2-3 mg/L during the entire operation by using an aerator below the membrane module. The membranes were operated at a flux of 18 LMH while membrane relaxation steps of 1 min were performed every 10 min. Both commercial and composite coagulants are added in different concentrations in the pilot-scale plant and their effect on the overall performance of the ΜΒR system is presented. Membrane fouling was assessed in terms of TMP, membrane permeability, sludge filterability tests, total resistance and the unified modified fouling index (UMFI). Preliminary tests showed that particular attention should be paid to the addition of the coagulant solution, indicating that pipe flocculation effectively increases hydraulic retention time and leads to voluminous sludge flocs. The most serious drawback in wastewater treatment using MBRs is membrane fouling, which gradually leads to membrane permeability decrease and efficiency deterioration. This results in increased treatment cost, due to high energy consumption and the need for frequent membrane cleaning and replacement. Due to the widespread application of MBR technology over the past few years, it becomes clear that the development of a methodology to mitigate membrane fouling is of paramount importance. The present work aims to develop an integrated technique for membrane fouling control in MBR systems and, thus, contribute to sustainable wastewater treatment.

Keywords: coagulation, membrane bioreactor, membrane fouling, pilot plant

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3 Extracellular Polymeric Substances Study in an MBR System for Fouling Control

Authors: Dimitra C. Banti, Gesthimani Liona, Petros Samaras, Manasis Mitrakas


Municipal and industrial wastewaters are often treated biologically, by the activated sludge process (ASP). The ASP not only requires large aeration and sedimentation tanks, but also generates large quantities of excess sludge. An alternative technology is the membrane bioreactor (MBR), which replaces two stages of the conventional ASP—clarification and settlement—with a single, integrated biotreatment and clarification step. The advantages offered by the MBR over conventional treatment include reduced footprint and sludge production through maintaining a high biomass concentration in the bioreactor. Notwithstanding these advantages, the widespread application of the MBR process is constrained by membrane fouling. Fouling leads to permeate flux decline, making more frequent membrane cleaning and replacement necessary and resulting to increased operating costs. In general, membrane fouling results from the interaction between the membrane material and the components in the activated sludge liquor. The latter includes substrate components, cells, cell debris and microbial metabolites, such as Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPS) and Sludge Microbial Products (SMPs). The challenge for effective MBR operation is to minimize the rate of Transmembrane Pressure (TMP) increase. This can be achieved by several ways, one of which is the addition of specific additives, that enhance the coagulation and flocculation of compounds, which are responsible for fouling, hence reducing biofilm formation on the membrane surface and limiting the fouling rate. In this project the effectiveness of a non-commercial composite coagulant was studied as an agent for fouling control in a lab scale MBR system consisting in two aerated tanks. A flat sheet membrane module with 0.40 um pore size was submerged into the second tank. The system was fed by50 L/d of municipal wastewater collected from the effluent of the primary sedimentation basin. The TMP increase rate, which is directly related to fouling growth, was monitored by a PLC system. EPS, MLSS and MLVSS measurements were performed in samples of mixed liquor; in addition, influent and effluent samples were collected for the determination of physicochemical characteristics (COD, BOD5, NO3-N, NH4-N, Total N and PO4-P). The coagulant was added in concentrations 2, 5 and 10mg/L during a period of 2 weeks and the results were compared with the control system (without coagulant addition). EPS fractions were extracted by a three stages physical-thermal treatment allowing the identification of Soluble EPS (SEPS) or SMP, Loosely Bound EPS (LBEPS) and Tightly Bound EPS (TBEPS). Proteins and carbohydrates concentrations were measured in EPS fractions by the modified Lowry method and Dubois method, respectively. Addition of 2 mg/L coagulant concentration did not affect SEPS proteins in comparison with control process and their values varied between 32 to 38mg/g VSS. However a coagulant dosage of 5mg/L resulted in a slight increase of SEPS proteins at 35-40 mg/g VSS while 10mg/L coagulant further increased SEPS to 44-48mg/g VSS. Similar results were obtained for SEPS carbohydrates. Carbohydrates values without coagulant addition were similar to the corresponding values measured for 2mg/L coagulant; the addition of mg/L coagulant resulted to a slight increase of carbohydrates SEPS to 6-7mg/g VSS while a dose of 10 mg/L further increased carbohydrates content to 9-10mg/g VSS. Total LBEPS and TBEPS, consisted of proteins and carbohydrates of LBEPS and TBEPS respectively, presented similar variations by the addition of the coagulant. Total LBEPS at 2mg/L dose were almost equal to 17mg/g VSS, and their values increased to 22 and 29 mg/g VSS during the addition of 5 mg/L and 10 mg/L of coagulant respectively. Total TBEPS were almost 37 mg/g VSS at a coagulant dose of 2 mg/L and increased to 42 and 51 mg/g VSS at 5 mg/L and 10 mg/L doses, respectively. Therefore, it can be concluded that coagulant addition could potentially affect microorganisms activities, excreting EPS in greater amounts. Nevertheless, EPS increase, mainly SEPS increase, resulted to a higher membrane fouling rate, as justified by the corresponding TMP increase rate. However, the addition of the coagulant, although affected the EPS content in the reactor mixed liquor, did not change the filtration process: an effluent of high quality was produced, with COD values as low as 20-30 mg/L.

Keywords: extracellular polymeric substances, MBR, membrane fouling, EPS

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2 Removal and/or Recovery of Phosphates by Precipitation as Ferric Phosphate from the Effluent of a Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant

Authors: Kyriaki Kalaitzidou, Athanasia Tolkou, Christina Raptopoulou, Manassis Mitrakas, Anastasios Zouboulis


Phosphate rock is the main source of phosphorous (P) in fertilizers and is essential for high crop yield in agriculture; currently, it is considered as a critical element, phasing scarcity. Chemical precipitation, which is a commonly used method of phosphorous removal from wastewaters, finds its significance in that phosphates may be precipitated in appropriate chemical forms that can be reused-recovered. Most often phosphorous is removed from wastewaters in the form of insoluble phosphate salts, by using salts (coagulants) of multivalent metal ions, most frequently iron, aluminum, calcium, or magnesium. The removal degree is affected by various factors, such as pH, chemical agent dose, temperature, etc. In this study, phosphate precipitation from the secondary (biologically treated) effluent of a municipal wastewater treatment plant is examined. Using chlorosulfate (FeClSO4) it was attempted to either remove and/or recover PO43-. Results showed that the use of Fe3+ can achieve residual concentrations lower than the commonly applied legislation limit of PO43- (i.e. 3 mg PO43-/L) by adding 7.5 mg/L Fe3+ in the secondary effluent with an initial concentration of about 10 mg PO43-/L and at pH range between 6 to 9. In addition, the formed sediment has a percentage of almost 24% PO43- content. Therefore, simultaneous removal and recovery of PO43- as ferric phosphate can be achieved, making it possible for the ferric phosphate to be re-used as a possible (secondary) fertilizer source.

Keywords: ferric phosphate, phosphorus recovery, phosphorus removal, wastewater treatment

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1 A Comparative Study of Simple and Pre-polymerized Fe Coagulants for Surface Water Treatment

Authors: Petros Gkotsis, Giorgos Stratidis, Manassis Mitrakas, Anastasios Zouboulis


This study investigates the use of original and pre-polymerized iron (Fe) reagents compared to the commonly applied polyaluminum chloride (PACl) coagulant for surface water treatment. Applicable coagulants included both ferric chloride (FeCl₃) and ferric sulfate (Fe₂(SO₄)₃) and their pre-polymerized Fe reagents, such as polyferric sulfate (PFS) and polyferric chloride (PFCl). The efficiency of coagulants was evaluated by the removal of natural organic matter (NOM) and suspended solids (SS), which were determined in terms of reducing the UV absorption at 254 nm and turbidity, respectively. The residual metal concentration (Fe and Al) was also measured. Coagulants were added at five concentrations (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 mg/L) and three pH values (7.0, 7.3 and 7.6). Experiments were conducted in a jar-test device, with two types of synthetic surface water (i.e., of high and low organic strength) which consisted of humic acid (HA) and kaolin at different concentrations (5 mg/L and 50 mg/L). After the coagulation/flocculation process, clean water was separated with filters of pore size 0.45 μm. Filtration was also conducted before the addition of coagulants in order to compare the ‘net’ effect of the coagulation/flocculation process on the examined parameters (UV at 254 nm, turbidity, and residual metal concentration). Results showed that the use of PACl resulted in the highest removal of humics for both types of surface water. For the surface water of high organic strength (humic acid-kaolin, 50 mg/L-50 mg/L), the highest removal of humics was observed at the highest coagulant dosage of 5 mg/L and at pH=7. On the contrary, turbidity was not significantly affected by the coagulant dosage. However, the use of PACl decreased turbidity the most, especially when the surface water of high organic strength was employed. As expected, the application of coagulation/flocculation prior to filtration improved NOM removal but slightly affected turbidity. Finally, the residual Fe concentration (0.01-0.1 mg/L) was much lower than the residual Al concentration (0.1-0.25 mg/L).

Keywords: coagulation/flocculation, iron and aluminum coagulants, metal salts, pre-polymerized coagulants, surface water treatment

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